In a nutshell: Drive-up snorkeling convenience on a wonderful, less-than-crowded resort beach.
Minuses: The plus is the minus: ocean entry directly onto reef.
Sound-bite: “Welcome to McSnorkels, may I take your order?”
This beach is the Northern most beach in the Ka’anapali Beach Resort, but is less crowded and commercialized than its sister to the South, Ka’anapali Beach. Kahekili Beach is long, there are ample facilities – and like most Ka’anapali beaches, Kahekili does not disappoint.
This is my absolute favorite beach to take those “not-so-strong swimmers” or first-time snorkelers to. The reef comes right up to the shore here – and the surf is typically mild. Since snorkelers don’t have to swim into deeper waters, or close to shallow/partially exposed rock, snorkeling here is as easy as it gets: you just dive in, and you’re right there.
Kahekili Beach Park is also a favorite place for diving outfits to take beginning divers. An easy walk-in right from the beach, and the area is relatively shallow as far as diving goes.
King Kahekili Nui ’Ahumanu
This beach is named for the last King of the Maui empire: King Kahekili Nui ‘Ahumanu.
An absolutely fearsome and ruthless leader, half of Kahekili’s body was tattooed entirely black so that he would match the description of his namesake, Kāne-Hekili, the Hawaiian God of thunder…
Besides a wide array of fish, there are also loads of green sea turtles that frequent the entire Ka’anapali area. If you spend any significant time snorkeling (or just looking for them from your perch the beach) you’re bound to encounter them, and they are always a favorite.
During whale season, whales can typically be observed from the beach, breaching and frolicking. Even if you can’t see them, this is one of many perfect locations where you will almost always hear them. All you need to do is slip under the water and be absolutely silent for a moment.
The biggest minus here is the same as the biggest plus: since the reef starts right at the ocean’s edge, tentatively wading in to test the waters isn’t going to be a pleasure. For the stretch of beach fronting the pavilion, much of the entry is not sandy-bottomed for more than the first couple steps step or two, so you’ll definitely want to fully commit (start swimming/floating immediately upon entry!)
Now, if a beautiful sandy entry is all you need to seal the deal, a short stroll towards the Black Rock end of this beach (south/left side) delivers. The south side of this beach mirrors the perfection of Ka’anapali Beach, with less crowds. Wow – with all that love, you’ll soon see why many locals skip right over Ka’anapali Beach in favor of Kahekili. (Note: during winter storms the south end of Kahekili beach can sometimes have exposed lava-rock at the entry to the ocean.)
Location: Kai Ala Dr. @ 25.1 mile marker of Honoapi’ilani Hwy (Hwy 30)
GPS Coordinates: 20.93670,-156.69171
Facilities: Restrooms, water, picnic tables, covered pavilion area, bbq’s, showers, lawn.
View Kahekili Beach Park in a larger map